A concept drawing of the Career Development Center relocation to Plemmons Student Union. Image courtesy of LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors
The relocated Career Development Center is one of several major construction projects underway at Appalachian State University to enhance the Appalachian Experience.
The project supports the strategic plan of Appalachian and the university’s goals and metrics associated with the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan. It will benefit students, academics and employers.
Career services play an integral role in preparing students to transition from college to employment or enrollment in an advanced degree. By moving the Career Development Center from John E. Thomas Hall to the heart of campus in Plemmons Student Union, App State seeks to maximize the center’s visibility and accessibility as a career hub.
The $1.95 million project embraces more innovative uses of technology, high-quality in-person engagement and flexible formats that meet the career and professional needs of students and the recruiting needs of employers.
The relocation plan stems from student feedback that the current location at the edge of campus is not convenient, easy to locate or welcoming.
Features of the new space:
- Open seating and work areas for students, which allow for physical distancing.
- Multipurpose space for evening programming and other uses.
- Screens and interview rooms through which students can engage with employers in a professional setting, virtually or in person.
- Space for small group gatherings for career exploration.
- A high-top communal table for use by Career Guides, peer leaders who facilitate Career Studio, from which they can meet with students virtually or in person.
The university engaged with LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors in the 2019–20 academic year to complete an advanced planning study for the new space. Havco Construction was selected as the general contractor in fall 2020.
Construction started in December 2020 with demolition of the Plemmons Student Union’s Profile Trail Lounge, Whitewater Lounge, two offices and one side of McAlister’s Deli. Interior framing and rough-in work for electric and HVAC systems are underway.
The facility is expected to be ready for furnishings and equipment in June 2021.
How is it funded?
The Career Development Center relocation is paid with student activity fees.
Who will benefit?
Students and employers will benefit from the modern career hub. Nationally, students who engage with their career office are more likely to have full-time employment and report that their college prepared them for life after graduation. Since thousands of students access the Plemmons Student Union each day, the center’s reach is expected to increase.
The central location will allow for incidental connections and lead to greater use of services available to students. They will have easy access to scheduled appointments and can drop by the Career Studio for a 10-minute resume review or meet their career coach in the student union’s coffee shop to discuss job search strategies.
Hundreds of employers interact with the Career Development Center each year, and the new location will offer dedicated space to highlight employer partners.
How does it support UNC System Goals and Metrics?
Career counseling, training and resources play an integral role in preparing students to transition from college to employment or enrollment in an advanced degree. Therefore, an improved Career Development Center supports the UNC System in its challenge to increase the diversity of talent necessary to meet the workforce demands of North Carolina.
Major current projects:
- Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research
- Appalachian 105
- Residence halls
- Kidd Brewer Stadium — North End Zone
- Child Development Center Expansion
- Sanford Hall
- Career Development Center relocation
- Arts Corridor
- Wey Hall
- Boone Creek Daylighting
Capital projects at Appalachian continue, as Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 27, 2020, stay-at-home order considers construction, specifically for housing and on government property, as an essential business activity. For employee safety, contractors are taking protective measures against the coronavirus.
Construction at App State continues because:
• Discontinuing projects would severely impact project costs to the state, requiring more money to re-start an abandoned project and increasing the risk of material delays and some subcontractors going out of business.
• The new residence halls being built under a public-private partnership constitute a ground lease, whereby a private developer has created a timeline and is managing the construction privately. The financial feasibility of the project is based on a specific timeline tied to the academic year.
• In other construction on campus, bond money was approved by Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian has a fiduciary responsibility to execute construction in the shortest time possible. And, much like a homeowner building a new home with a construction loan, the university is already making payments on the project.
An aerial view of areas receiving millennial campus designation at Appalachian State University. Video by Marie Freeman